Experts explain best ways to protect your family from carbon monoxide poisoning

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Periodic maintenance on gas appliances and carbon monoxide detectors are key. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Periodic maintenance on gas appliances and carbon monoxide detectors are key. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Experts agree the No. 1 way to prevent a tragedy is to make sure where you’re staying is equipped with CO detectors. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Experts agree the No. 1 way to prevent a tragedy is to make sure where you’re staying is equipped with CO detectors. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
CO leaks can happen with any gas appliance. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) CO leaks can happen with any gas appliance. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The water heater may also have a system that shows if something is wrong with the water heater. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The water heater may also have a system that shows if something is wrong with the water heater. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected in the death of an Iowa family who was vacationing in Mexico last week.

A prosecutor in the Caribbean coast state of Quintana Roo told media Monday that the water heater "was leaking gas, maybe from use or lack of maintenance."

[READ MORE: Water heater gas leak killed Iowa family found dead in Mexico, authorities say]

Also known as CO, and described as a "silent killer," you can't see, smell or taste the gas.

[RELATED: Carbon monoxide: The silent killer of hundreds of Americans]

"We have more emergencies than you would believe," said Capt. Rob McDade of Phoenix Fire Department.

From a fire station in central Phoenix Monday morning, McDade described the signs of CO poisoning.

"You feel disoriented, tired, nauseous, rosy cheeks. You might feel like you ate something bad. You have the flu coming on. It’s been a long stressful week," said McDade.

"It’s very much a preventable accident," said Lavern Burk, technical training and safety manager of George Brazil Plumbing and Electric.

At the company's main headquarters near Phoenix Sky Harbor, Burk showed where CO leaks can happen.

"Any appliance that has gas. It could be a furnace, it could be a water heater, could be a stove," said Burk.

Experts agree the No. 1 way to prevent a tragedy is to make sure where you’re staying is equipped with CO detectors.

[WATCH: Officials: Carbon monoxide detectors could save your life]

"If you’re a renter, tell your landlord that I have to have that. It’s right there with a smoke detector," said McDade.

"They should be installed in every sleep area, and they should be installed in all hallways," said Burk.

Periodic maintenance on gas appliances is also important.

"The water heater should be inspected at least once a year, should be flushed at least once a year, but everything checked at that point. You check the venting on it, you check the gas connections," said Burk.

To take your safety a step further, buy a travel CO alarm. You can find them on Amazon for around $20 and up.

"You can’t be without it. If you’re going to protect your family, you have to have that CO alarm," said McDade.

McDade advises when going on vacation, ask the question, "Does my lodging have a CO detector?" If the answer is yes, ask where it's located, make sure it's there and make sure it's working.

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